Prince Harry drew cheers at the start of a Commonwealth summit in London as he described how his fiancee Meghan Markle is “hugely excited” to join his work in a new role handed to him by the Queen.
Having been appointed a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by his grandmother, Prince Harry told young delegates that “it is you who are going to change the world”, at the beginning of the week-long Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Prince Harry, who will marry Ms Markle next month, earned an enthusiastic response as he mentioned his upcoming wedding at the opening of the CHOGM Youth Forum on Monday.
“In my new role, I will work to support the Queen, my father the Prince of Wales, and my brother William, all of whom know that young people are the answer to the challenges of today,” he said.
“I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in.”
Praising the Queen’s support for the Commonwealth, which he and Ms Markle are expected to tour after their wedding on 19 May, Prince Harry said: “As I travel around the Commonwealth in my work on behalf of the Royal Family, it is striking to see just how different today’s generation of young adults are.
“You are connected. You have made positive use of technology to build relationships within your communities, nations and across the globe.
“You care. You want your nations to be cleaner, your planet to be greener, your friends and neighbours to be treated fairly and with respect, no matter their ethnicity, their religion, or their status.”
Giving her own opening speech at CHOGM, to the summit’s business forum, Theresa May also spoke of how “the young people of today are the Commonwealth of tomorrow, its business leaders, its innovators, its heads of government”.
“They have incredible potential, and we as a Commonwealth have a duty to help them reach it,” the Prime Minister added.
“That is why I have put youth at the heart of this week’s agenda.”
The UK’s exit from the EU has put a fresh focus on this year’s CHOGM summit, with the Government committed to striking new post-Brexit trade deals with non-EU countries, including those from the Commonwealth.
Mrs May used her address to outline the “challenges posed by protectionism”, as she expressed a desire for “supporting the use of international standards” in global trade.
She said: “Although the system of international commerce has done much good for the world, it can always be improved. Playing fields can be levelled, barriers removed, the benefits opened up to all.
“So while we should be unapologetic in our support for free and inclusive trade, we should also work hand in hand with businesses to make it more efficient and effective, for example by supporting the use of international standards.
“Shared standards have huge potential to stimulate trade.”
But, in a warning to fellow Commonwealth leaders, the Prime Minister also told delegates easing world trade won’t be successful “if half the Commonwealth’s citizens continue to face significant barriers to participation in the economy”.
Announcing the new SheTrades Commonwealth programme, Mrs May added: “It has been estimated that if women played the same role as men in labour markets, as much as $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025.
“If Commonwealth members are not giving women an equal opportunity to succeed in business and in trade, they are trying to take on some of the biggest economies in the world with one hand tied behind their backs.”